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Bettker K's 17 on way to 1-hitter

For Amanda Bettker, pitching against Gibbs was as easy as 1-2-3.

As in 1-2-3 strikes you're out.

Bettker mowed down batters with ease Tuesday. She struck out 16 of the first 17 batters she faced and retired 20 in a row.

Then came the seventh inning.

With two outs and her perfect game still intact, Bettker threw a changeup to Nikki Myers, who hit it down the third-base line for a single. Nonetheless, Bettker ended the game with _ what else? _ a strikeout to lead the Vikings to a 2-0 victory.

Bettker pitched a one-hit shutout and finished with 17 strikeouts. It was the second game in a row Bettker has given up a single in the seventh inning to break up a no-hitter.

"It's frustrating not to get the no-hitter," Bettker said. "But the most important thing is we won. I'm more satisfied with getting the win."

The Vikings provided Bettker with some runs in the fourth inning. Kristin Kravitz led off the inning with a double. She stole second and came home on an error. Ashleigh Lutz, who reached on an error, scored the other run on a grounder by Jodi Hebert.

"This was the biggest win of the season," Northeast coach Sheryl Hollen said. "We've always gone out to win games before today, but we knew they didn't count toward conference. This one meant a whole lot."

It meant the Vikings, who have won six straight, were on top of the PCAC South Division standings, even though it was the first game of conference play.

And Northeast also got some revenge on the Gladiators. A month ago, Gibbs beat the Vikings when Myers accounted for the game's only run _ a solo homer in the first inning.

It was the first hit Bettker gave up against the Gladiators in three years.

"It was hard to lose the last time we played them," Bettker said. "But we knew this mattered more because it was a conference game. Our bats are starting to come around and we're getting stronger as the season goes on. We've picked it up another level."